Tottenham make it clear: Frank Lampard's Everton are in the relegation scrap

Everton 'horrendous' in thumping loss to Spurs (1:20)

Don Hutchison says Frank Lampard's back four was playing at Championship level in Everton's 5-0 loss in the Premier League. (1:20)

LONDON -- Midway through the first half, after yet another save from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, the ball ricocheted into the away end and was hidden by a group of travelling supporters.

It was the best piece of defending the Merseysiders managed all night.

They were only 2-0 down at that point, but the dye was already cast on an utterly miserable and alarming performance in which the winning margin was ultimately determined by hosts Tottenham Hotspur idling in the absence of any sort of contest as minds began turning to Saturday's clash against Manchester United.

They scored five unanswered times in the end, starting with Michael Keane's 14th-minute own goal and a low Heung-Min Son drive which Pickford should have kept out. Handed that advantage, Spurs pushed it home through almost non-existent resistance. Harry Kane added a third before half-time, then substitute Sergio Reguilon ensured the second half followed the one-sided pattern of the first by scoring 41 seconds after the restart.

Kane executed a fine volley from a relatively tight angle to score Tottenham's fifth, and in the process climbed above Arsenal's Thierry Henry to 176 Premier League goals to sixth on the all-time goalscorer's list.

This also furthered the hypothesis that when Conte has a clear week to work with his players -- as when beating Manchester City and Leicester in the league, or Brighton in the FA Cup -- there is a notable uptick in their collective output.

But aside from Matt Doherty's continuing renaissance at wing-back -- "I'd like to underline his improvement" said Conte afterwards -- not much else could be drawn from this for Spurs given just how woeful the opposition was.

Lampard's last Premier League visit here came as Chelsea manager in December 2019, when he celebrated a thoroughly-deserved 2-0 win with a gleeful away section revelling in what that enclave of west London still refers to as "Three Point Lane."

The joke was on him here. To the tune of "Three Lions," Spurs fans sang: "He's going down, he's going down, he's going! Lampard's going down."

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There is still plenty of time for Everton to rescue themselves but the notable effect of this humiliation was that, although they remain in 17th, one place and one point above the relegation zone, Burnley in 18th now have a better goal difference.

Everton have not been relegated since 1951, ever-presents in English football's top flight since 1954, but this is the sort of performance that casts significant doubt over preserving that longstanding heritage.

Although there have been signs of promise at home -- unfortunate as they were to lose 1-0 to Manchester City last month -- Everton's performances on the road have been abysmal, succumbing meekly at Newcastle, Southampton and now Spurs since Lampard was appointed on Jan. 31.

"There's a clear discrepancy between home and away form as a team," Lampard admitted after the match. "So then you start looking for different reasons for why we are not such a force in the final third.

"There were issues that were there before me, issues that need to be sorted out. Unfortunately, issues don't take care of themselves overnight. We are still in the very early stages so we have to find the way to get the results to keep us in the league this year because it is clear where we are."

Their next two matches look vital -- at home at Goodison Park to both Wolves and Newcastle -- given what lies ahead. After that, Everton still have to play five of the top six, plus a resurgent Leicester City.

"What we've seen is a big uplift at Goodison, we've seen a big unification of the club, the fans are buying into what we are doing but we haven't been able to move the away form," Lampard said. "We now have two home games to work for, to try and get the result that will make things feel seem more positive. We have to focus on them.

"Of course, the away form we want to sort out and get it right. It may be one click moment that it works for us. At the moment, we haven't done that and there's certainly a mentality issue but that's normal ... if you go away from home at a place like Tottenham and concede two or three, I don't care whether you are in our position or near the top of the league, it is a long, difficult night, generally."

Lampard will surely have to approach those games with more pragmatism rather than Monday's tactically naive deployment; Conte's Spurs have struggled against teams defending deep but here Everton sought to press them high but served only to leave swathes of space in behind for Son and Kane to stage their highly-effective double act.

Lampard remains a manager with significant potential but his downfall at Chelsea was a porous defence; in 2019-20, his sole full season at the club, the Blues finished fourth but conceded 54 goals, more than any other side in the top half.

Thomas Tuchel inherited the same defence at Chelsea and won the Champions League. At Everton, Lampard follows in the footsteps of Rafa Benitez, renowned previously for his defensive organisation. The task facing him is seismic. The fans can only hide the ball for so long.